Tuesday, 7 October 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
158. Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the frequency with which inspections are carried out on fish farms across Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22110/03]
Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. D. Ahern): Monitoring and inspection of fish farms is carried out by my Department with the advice and assistance of the Marine Institute. Each marine fish farm is inspected 14 times a year by Marine Institute staff in connection with monitoring and control of sea lice levels, in accordance the terms of a protocol published by my Department in 2000. One inspection is carried out in the period December to January, two inspections per month are carried out at farms during February to May, and one inspection per month is undertaken during the rest of the year.
Monitoring of fish health at each fish farm is also undertaken by the Marine Institute and involves at least one inspection of each farm each year. As part of this programme, samples of fish are screened for viruses and bacterial infection, as well as certain parasites. A sampling and monitoring programme for residues is carried out by the Marine Institute each year in accordance with EU Directive 96/23. The programme involves monitoring for a wide range of residues, including antibiotics and environmental contaminants.
Inspections of fish farms are also carried out periodically by officials of my Department. For example, 35 inspections of marine finfish farm  sites and 24 inspections of freshwater sites were carried out in the year to end September by the Department's engineering division. In addition, fish farms operations are scrutinised through returns and reports that are required to be made to my Department by the companies concerned.
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